Maintaining Family Relationships  |  Supporting Children

Parents, Find Your Village

BY SOPHIA HUANG

4 October 2021  |   5 min read

I was sitting on a good friend’s couch listening to her recount stories of her child getting used to Primary One.

We traded stories, shared our pains and joys, kind of like mutual therapy for mums. She told me of her son struggling to like art class; I told her of my problems with teachers.

This friend of mine is particularly special because both our first and second-born children are the same age and even have birthdays a month apart. Each pair of same-age little friends spent four years in the same preschool and class, and our children have enjoyed growing up together.

She’s just one of the mothers I make a point to keep in regular contact with, for my sanity, because parenting can be so hard sometimes.

To Go Far, Grow Together

I was quickly acquainted with the difficulties of parenthood once I had my first child. Just five days into the parenting gig, my baby wouldn’t latch properly during breastfeeding.

Discouraged and downcast, I texted my sister-in-law an SOS, which she immediately responded to. Having that lifeline saved me from spiralling further, and I was able to get the help I needed.

Throughout my parenting journey, I have been blessed to speak with those who have walked before me. In return, I’ve paid it forward with younger and less experienced parents. They come and take a look at my bath routines and set ups, and go home with baby clothes and helpful tips.

No man is an island, as they say, and neither are parents. We need one another.

There are those who share honestly of their struggles with grouchy teens, or how they talk to their kids about the birds and the bees. Other parents spoil my kids with gifts, while I bake goodies for them. We share and do life together, as schedules permit. I wouldn’t be here without them.

It may feel like extra effort to socialise when you’ve got enough to handle at home, but building one’s tribe is an investment I believe we cannot skip out on.

For starters, here’s some tips on what to look for when you find your tribe.

Photos taken in collaboration with Larry Toh, featuring one of our ParentWise families

Finding The Village You Need

1. They’re not here to compare

Look for those who are willing to come alongside you just as you are, who aren’t interested in comparing your children or parenting methods but more focused on companionship and camaraderie.

These are the ones who share openly and honestly and don’t shy away from the uglier parts of parenting – how they’ve messed up, mistakes they’ve made, things they wished they did differently. They make time for playdates and make room at the table.

It may feel like extra effort to socialise when you’ve got enough to handle at home, but building one’s tribe is an investment I believe we cannot skip out on.

2. They give generously and wisely

Whether it be their time, gifts, or their experience, this company you keep shares advice with genuine care and tact – only when asked, not in a manner that is overbearing or judgmental.

They don’t assume their own opinions or experiences are the absolute truth or apply wholesale to everyone, but they do take the time setting the appropriate expectations as a fellow parent.

3. They are great listeners and voices of reason

You want a village that listens well before speaking, and is slow to jump to conclusions or judgments about you, your children or your parenting style. They empathise, try to see things from your perspective, but at the same time, aren’t afraid to tell you what you might need to hear.

Be The Parent Friend Someone Needs

Maybe you’re wondering: How is it even possible to find a community like this?

And the truth is, it often starts with us. When we share honestly, give generously and truly care, we break down walls and pretenses. All of us struggle, but not all are willing to reveal their vulnerability.

As you seek fellow parents to walk alongside you in this journey, start by being the kind of support you want to have. By opening up our hearts and homes, we can be catalysts for the change we want to see.

Sophia Huang is a mother of three, copy editor and children’s book author. She believes that children learn best through play and should spend as much time as possible outdoors. She is passionate about upcycling trash into toys for children and records her journey at Nature Playtime and Craftcycle For Kids on Facebook and Instagram.

This article was first published on ParentWise. Developed by Temasek Foundation in partnership with SEED Institute (subsidiary of NTUC First Campus), ParentWise is a programme that offers curated evidence-based learning programmes and resources that parents and caregivers need to support their children. For more parenting tips and resources, please visit ParentWise at https://parentwise.sg/.